Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 24, 2014

Posts in "Eric Cantor"

April 24, 2014

House Members Push for Open Debate on NSA Snooping

holt 211 062813 445x294 House Members Push for Open Debate on NSA Snooping

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bipartisan House members are calling for an open debate when the House takes up legislation later this year dealing with a controversial National Security Agency intelligence gathering program.

Rep. Rush D. Holt, D-N.J., a longtime opponent of the NSA program, is gathering signatures on a letter that he plans to send to top House leaders asking that if a bill reauthorizing the program comes to the floor, it comes under an open rule, meaning any member can offer an amendment.

Holt told CQ Roll Call that because opposition to the NSA phone metadata program cuts across ideological, geographical and generational lines, a range of opinions should be debated, rather than just a few preselected amendments.

“What the government, acting through the NSA, has done is treat Americans as suspects first and citizens second,” he said of the program. Full story

April 22, 2014

House Conservatives Agitate for Change in Leadership — but Can They Take Boehner’s Gavel?

boehnercantor090613 445x296 House Conservatives Agitate for Change in Leadership — but Can They Take Boehners Gavel?

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Conservatives are increasingly — and not so quietly — showing the early signs of a speakership revolt. But short of a sudden groundswell of opposition from the GOP rank and file, or a magic wand, Speaker John A. Boehner is the one who controls his fate.

Just don’t tell that to the Ohio Republican’s foes.

“I think pretty well everybody’s figured Mr. Boehner’s going to be gone, and the question is Cantor and McCarthy,” said Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan. “But most conservatives are saying it’s not just at the top; it’s all the way through.”

Huelskamp, who was more than an active player in the last Boehner coup, told CQ Roll Call there are “a lot of meetings going on” about who could be speaker in the 114th Congress, and if Boehner should decide to say, conservatives are discussing how to remove him.

“I think there’s efforts underway to do that,” Huelskamp said.

It’s common congressional knowledge that Huelskamp and Boehner aren’t the best of friends. Boehner stripped Huelskamp of his seat on Financial Services for the 113th. And Huelskamp had a whip list the last time conservatives tried to usurp the speakership. Recently asked about his relationship with Boehner, Huelskamp summed it up this way: “I don’t smoke and I don’t suntan.”

The plan to ditch Boehner sounds similar to the GOP rebellion that ousted Newt Gingrich at the end of 1998: present the speaker with so much opposition behind closed doors that he’s forced to step aside.

But unlike Gingrich, it’s not the rank-and-file opposing Boehner, it’s not GOP leaders; Boehner’s opposition is localized to the same dissident conservatives who have been a thorn in his side for years.

Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said his boss has “a better relationship with his members right now than at any time.”

“As he has said many times, he fully expects to be speaker again next Congress,” Buck said. And Boehner lieutenants backed those statements up.

Full story

April 18, 2014

Cantor Leads CODEL to Asia

GOP Caucus 3 010814 445x295 Cantor Leads CODEL to Asia

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., on Friday began a congressional delegation trip to Asia, where he will meet with the prime minister of Japan and the president of South Korea as well as key U.S. ambassadors in the region.

Cantor and a group of members, including House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., will visit Japan, South Korea and China, meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, as well as ex-Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who is now the U.S. Ambassador to China, and Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

Cantor will focus on economics, national security and regional stability, his office said, following a speech he gave in February at the Virginia Military Institute where he called for more engagement in the region.

“While the situation in the Middle East continues to deteriorate and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has raised new concerns about security in Europe, the United States must also remain engaged in promoting peace and stability in Asia,” Cantor said in a statement.

Cantor and Ryan are joined by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, who will likely head the Armed Services Committee next year; also on the trip are Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., Kay Granger; R-Texas, Kristi Noem, R-S.D.; Aaron Schock, R-Ill.; Paul Cook, R-Calif.; and Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.


Correction, 6:53 p.m.: A previous version of this story misidentified the South Korean president.  She is Park Geun-hye.

April 16, 2014

Obama Calls Cantor After Day of Immigration Sparring

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:05 p.m. | President Barack Obama called House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday to implore House Republicans to hold a vote on the Senate-passed  immigration overhaul, prompting Cantor to say the president hasn’t learned how to work with Congress.

The Virginia Republican’s retort came in the form of a statement on a day of nasty back and forth between the president, Democrats and House GOP leadership over immigration legislation.

Full story

April 8, 2014

Republicans: Democrats Using Women as Pawns in Pay Debate

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the Senate poised to act this week on the gender pay gap, Republicans pushed back again Tuesday against the notion the GOP is waging a “war on women,” with GOP leaders accusing Democrats of using women as “pawns” to score political points.

Republican leaders wouldn’t say at their Tuesday morning news conference whether they’d bring their own legislative solution to the floor, focusing instead on rebutting Democrats’ “Equal Pay Day” criticisms that the GOP is anti-woman. 

“Women understand the direct impact of the policies and the impact that they have on them, so on this Equal Pay Day, I would urge us to stop politicizing women and let’s start focusing on those policies that are actually going to help women and everyone else in this country have a better life,” said House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. “Let’s focus on those policies that are actually going to move forward on a jobs plan that will create a higher paycheck, [and] more opportunities … for a better life we all want.” Full story

Cantor: McAllister Right to Apologize After Kissing Video

cantor012214 445x296 Cantor: McAllister Right to Apologize After Kissing Video

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said Tuesday that embattled Rep. Vance McAllister was right to apologize to his constituents, but did not say whether the freshman Louisiana lawmaker would face repercussions within the Republican Conference.

“I think that his constituents deserve an apology. [That’s] why he gave an apology,” Cantor said. “I’ve not had a chance to speak to the congressman, so I’m going to reserve further judgment on the question. I will say the American people deserve all the representatives here in Washington to hold to a very high standard of behavior.”

A video posted online Monday allegedly shows the congressman kissing a staffer in his Louisiana district office. McAllister issued an apology after the video appeared, but a wide field of would-be successors are already jockeying for consideration for the seat, should the 40-year-old lawmaker choose to step down.

Full story

April 2, 2014

Obama Signing Cantor’s Pediatric Bill, Leader Will Attend White House Photo Op

cantor003 071111 445x295 Obama Signing Cantors Pediatric Bill, Leader Will Attend White House Photo Op

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., will make a rare trip to the White House Thursday afternoon to attend a bill signing ceremony for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act.

The bill is named for a young girl who died of brain cancer last year and who was an advocate for pediatric research. Cantor will be joined by the Miller family, who are his constituents.

The bill, which seeks to increase funding for pediatric research, was a key priority for Cantor and marked an unusual election-year bipartisan victory.

Full story

Conservatives Still Fuming Over Secret ‘Doc Fix’ Voice Vote (Video) (Updated)

Updated 5:14 p.m. | Conservative House members confronted Speaker John A. Boehner at a private Wednesday morning meeting, fuming that last week’s secret deal to pass the “doc fix” violated the trust between leaders and their rank and file.

Then, at a private meeting of the conservative Republican Study Committee later in the afternoon, members challenged Majority Leader Eric Cantor, asking the Virginia Republican to explain why leaders pushed the bill through without allowing members to cast their votes.

It remains unclear whether there will be any lasting implications to the tactic, but members are still angry and say leaders have yet to satisfy their complaints.

“What I didn’t hear was, ‘I promise this’ll never happen again.’ I think that’s something that has to happen,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said. “It isn’t that anyone broke their word at this point, but they need to give their word.” Full story

March 21, 2014

Cantor Says House Budget Will Conform to ‘Spending Limits’ (Updated)

boehner 144 0312141 445x307 Cantor Says House Budget Will Conform to Spending Limits (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:44 p.m. |Majority Leader Eric Cantor is telling House Republicans they will produce a budget that adheres to spending limits and balances the budget in ten years.

“We owe it to the American people to demonstrate how we will allocate their tax dollars and balance the budget,” Cantor wrote Friday to House Republicans.

The Virginia Republican noted that President Barack Obama’s budget “blows past” the spending caps previously agreed to for fiscal 2015, but the the House GOP’s budget will conform to the agreed upon “spending limits.”

The pluralization of that last word is key: There are rumors that House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan intends to offer a budget that would adhere to the overall spending limit, but would exceed the defense spending caps, which are unpopular with a number of Republicans. Full story

March 18, 2014

Cantor Looks to Confront Putin, Impose Costs on Russia

cantor062513 445x296 Cantor Looks to Confront Putin, Impose Costs on Russia

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is looking to retaliate against Russia after it moved to annex Crimea Tuesday.

“I’ve asked House Committees to examine additional steps that can be taken to impose greater costs to Russia,” the Virginia Republican said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

He added that he also would “look forward to working with President Obama and his Administration to confront the brazen challenge to international security posted by [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin’s aggression.” Full story

March 14, 2014

Ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish Push for Immigration Overhaul

Can the luck of the Irish help overhaul America’s immigration system?  Irish leaders and members of the Irish American community think so.

In a St. Patrick’s Day lunch hosted by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, on Friday, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, stressed his support for restructuring the American immigration system.

Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., Chair of the Friends of Ireland who attended the lunch, told Roll Call, “John brought up the fact how the Taoiseach was hammering him on immigration.”

King said the Irish prime minister responded, saying the Irish support Boehner’s immigration principles and “will do whatever they can” to advance them.

However, there appears to be little support for Boehner’s immigration principles among his GOP colleagues.

Despite this obstacle, some believe the Irish lobbying effort can have some effect on immigration policy. Full story

Cantor: Pelosi Should Apologize for ‘Hungry Children’ Comment (Updated)

Updated 12:04 p.m. | House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wants House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to apologize for saying that an anonymous Republican friend told her the party does not care about struggling families and hungry children.

“The minority leader in the House should really, I think, apologize for that statement. That’s outrageous. We all want to help inner city kids. We all want to help people, and the debate should be around what’s the best way to help people,” the Virginia Republican told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. 

Pelosi said over the weekend at the California Democrats State Convention in Los Angeles that an anonymous Republican friend told her that “struggling families and really hungry children” are “invisible, and the Republican caucus is indifferent to them.”

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement that Pelosi will not apologize: “Leader Pelosi’s statement is consistent with the House Republican record, with which Leader Cantor is surely familiar.”

Cantor said during the Fox News interview that he and other Republicans in fact do care about struggling children.

“I have traveled almost every month to an inner city school both in my hometown of Richmond and elsewhere across the country, spending time in these schools with inner city students and kids. I don’t look at them being invisible, I look at them as being an inspiration,” he said.

March 13, 2014

Use War Money to Pay for ‘Doc Fix,’ Reid Tells Boehner

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is renewing his call to use unspent war funds to spare doctors from a severe cut in Medicare payments slated to begin next month.

The Nevada Democrat told Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio last week that he wants to use Overseas Contingency Operations funding — money saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — to pay for the “doc fix,” a policy that would shore up a formula that pays doctors who treat Medicare patients, according to members and staff.

The conversation came as the House began planning for a Friday vote to pay for the $138 billion fix by delaying the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that individuals purchase insurance, and further underscores that the bill will not be taken up by the Senate.

It also shows just how mired in politics the policy has become, despite a bipartisan, bicameral goal of avoiding the doctors’ pay spike. Members are starting to grumble, as a result, that Congress could end up with another temporary extension, especially because the policy must be dealt with by the end of the month. Full story

March 12, 2014

Can Cantor Deliver on Voting Rights Act?

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(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After two trips to the Deep South alongside civil rights icon and Georgia Democrat John Lewis, the pressure is on Eric Cantor to deliver on the Voting Rights Act.

The majority leader has made a major, personal investment in connecting to the civil rights movement — something that ultimately could prove important for a GOP that regularly polls in the single digits among African-Americans and poorly among other minorities.

But translating participation in the Faith and Politics Institute’s annual pilgrimage into legislative text that can win support from the bulk of the Republican Conference isn’t an easy task.

And so far, Cantor hasn’t laid out a clear path for a bill nine months after declaring his support for a congressional response to the Supreme Court decision striking down the VRA’s core enforcement mechanisms.

Democrats have signaled that they trust Cantor, a Virginia Republican, on this issue, and that the extent to which he is able to help advance a VRA fix depends largely on his ability to mobilize his flock, many of whom are hostile to the idea.

“A lot of what is happening on the other side of the aisle wouldn’t be happening if it were up to Cantor,” said the House’s No. 3 Democrat, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, adding that many far-right Republicans “relish in gumming up the works.”
Full story

March 11, 2014

Cantor’s Pediatric Research Bill Could Have Been a Bust (Updated)

House Republican Conference 17 120313 445x295 Cantors Pediatric Research Bill Could Have Been a Bust (Updated)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:52 p.m. | House Majority Leader Eric Cantor cheered the passage of one of his top priorities Tuesday, as a pediatric research funding bill he laboriously pushed through the House easily passed the Senate.

But it almost did not happen at all.

A dying child, geography and some last-minute politicking may have given the bill the final boost it needed to get to President Barack Obama’s desk.

The bill is the first piece of legislation under the umbrella of Cantor’s much-publicized Republican rebrand — the Make Life Work agenda — to pass the Senate. So it is curious that Senate Democrats who regularly deride Cantor’s party as extremist would give the Virginia Republican a legislative win as he tries to soften the GOP’s image.

The bill would move $126 million that would have been used to pay for political conventions into a fund that can only be applied to pediatric research through the National Institutes of Health.

Several House Republicans opposed the legislation because they would rather see the money used to offset the deficit. Top House Democrats, meanwhile, called the $126 million authorization over 10 years a pittance in the NIH budget and said Cantor was simply trying to obscure several years of Republican-sponsored cuts to medical research through the sequester.

Furthermore, they implied the money may never help the NIH. The money will be held in a fund until appropriators apply it to the agency, and overall funding levels must still stay within the budget caps agreed to in the recent bipartisan budget deal.

All that made for a tenuous road to passage. It was not until Cantor rebranded the bill itself that he found legislative success.

Formerly called the Kids First Research Act, the bill was renamed for Gabriella Miller, a 10-year-old Virginia girl who died last year. Afflicted with brain cancer, she nonetheless applied her boisterous personality to viral YouTube videos advocating for heightened awareness for pediatric diseases.

Democrats decried the move at the time, saying it was cynical to name the bill for Miller because they believed it did little to advocate for her cause.

Yet aides noted that the name change did indeed have an effect. With Miller’s parents watching from the House chamber’s visitors gallery, the bill passed in December on a 295-103 vote.

Shortly after it passed, both of Virginia’s Democratic senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, joined with GOP Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah to co-sponsor corresponding legislation in the Senate, taking on the cause of their home-state constituents.

It passed the Senate on Tuesday with unanimous consent.

“We decided to take whatever funding authorization NIH can get at this time (since it seems that Republicans have no interest in otherwise increasing NIH’s research budget), and to have a fight for more funding when appropriation time comes,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide said in an email.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., noted on the Senate floor that NIH funding has been cut far more than this bill will add, and noted that no money would go toward research until it is appropriated.  ”It is so very, very important that we not claim victory for the NIH because of this,” he said.

The bill also recently become an issue in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign.

His Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, speaking at a fundraiser in Kentucky over the weekend, called on McConnell to quickly endorse the bill, invoking a home-state youngster who died in 2012 from a rare form of cancer.

Lane Goodwin, who died at age 13, had achieved minor celebrity status with a Facebook page that asked well-wishers to post “thumbs up” photos in support of his recovery.

“It’s time you put your name on the bill and lead,” Grimes said March 8, challenging McConnell, according to the Courier-Journal. “We can’t afford to lose any more youngsters like Lane here in the commonwealth of Kentucky.”

McConnell’s office noted, however, that he had already put the bill on the Senate “hotline” Jan. 7 to try and clear it for passage.

He put in the unanimous consent request Tuesday, noting that he has been a strong supporter of pediatric research, in part because of personal experience.

“As a survivor of polio as a child, I have always empathized with children battling life-threatening or disabling disorders,” he said. “It is well past time we pass this bill out of the Senate and send it to the president for his signature.”

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